Author’s note: This is where it gets disturbing, folks. Hell, I have a hard time reading this one and I wrote it. If you’re still here after this, the rest of the story’ll be a breeze. You’ve been warned.
Chapter Sixteen - The Pensieve
Thanks for your letter. I hope married life is going well. Severus and I split up for a little while but I’m moving back in. Sorry this is so short – I’ve got a lot to do right now. Tell Bill I said hi.
P.S., Nephthys really is a pretty owl.
He read the letter one last time before attaching it to the sand-coloured owl’s leg. Nephthys held herself regally. Being named after a goddess, Harry supposed it was only normal. He petted her black-speckled back and she puffed out. Hedwig clicked her beak and turned to sulk. They hadn’t gotten along too well. He threw the eagle-owl into the air, stroked Hedwig (who perked up as soon as Nephthys was gone), and left the owlery. It had been a difficult letter to write. His mind kept drifting to fruitcake and the odd ponderance of what colour the rest of his hair was. Harry stifled a blush as those thoughts came back full-force. True, his eyebrows were black, but that didn’t mean… he shook his head. Calm. You’ve got work to do.
His trunk was already back in Sev’s suite, and he had a nice bed on the couch. Sirius had been livid but, really, there wasn’t anything else to do. Madam Pomfrey thought it would be cruel to confine him in the hospital wing with students in and out, St. Mungo’s refused to accept anyone who might bring the Death Eaters storming in at any moment, and now that his suspension “to be evaluated at the conclusion of term” was in effect he had to live with some member of the staff or be sent away. Headmistress McGonagall took pity on him, more for Harry’s sake than Snape’s. “If he does anything to you,” she’d warned, “come straight to me.” Harry only nodded, afraid to ask for clarification of “anything”. Colin’s split eye was healing nicely.
Harry made his way to the dungeons. Minerva was already waiting. “Don’t worry about everything right now. Just get whatever Severus might not want Professor Corbin to find. We’ll get the rest sorted later.” He scowled and nodded. Snape was under a few days of strict bed rest, which meant making him Draught of Living Death every few hours. Sev wasn’t allowed to mix it himself – Poppy still had him under “suicide watch”. Professor Vector was with him for now. “I’ll be in his classroom if you need anything.”
“Yes, ma’am.” There wasn’t anything to really do in the classroom, but she wanted to be thorough. He plopped down at the desk and broke the charm on the first drawer. Essays. More essays. Quills. Stack of graded tests – all ‘C’ or worse. Even Ginny got a ‘C’. Harry sighed and left them. In the next few drawers he found a couple of small books, and a sketch or two, which he took out just in case. One of the two large ones held research materials. He pondered taking it. In the end, he decided he’d better – Harry doubted Sev would want Professor Corbin to go snooping through months of futile study. It was exhausting. This much had only taken about half an hour, but it felt like half the day. Muttering to himself that Sev had better be nice to him, he opened the last drawer. Harry flipped through parchments as he stuck his hand in—
The world faded to a sort of silver-grey. Oh, fuck. He’d forgotten about the Pensieve! He found himself in a small room. Sunlight streamed in through bright blue curtains. The carpet was vivid red, the walls white and mainly hidden by shelves of books and a small wildlife preserve of stuffed animals. A bed with models of racing brooms on each side sat neatly in the corner, a blue duvet tucked around the mattress. A rocking thestral grinned in the middle of the room. It was perhaps the strangest thing he could imagine coming out of Snape’s head. Harry knew he should leave – he’d learned the trick to getting out of the damn things in seventh year Charms – but… it was so, so hard to see Sev the way he was now. He didn’t see how it could hurt to watch just one. A voice in the corner behind him made him turn.
“Why’d Mummy go away?”
Philia, her hair just starting to turn white at the temples, cuddled a little boy in miniature funeral robes. He hadn’t yet lost the chubbiness of being a toddler, but it was an odd, elongated chubbiness. She put her chin on his dark head and he stuck three fingers in his mouth. “There was a lump in her head, my love, and it made her hurt and wouldn’t go away, so she went to sleep and woke up someplace else where she’ll never hurt again.”
“Can we visit her?” Those black eyes were so ingenuous, so trusting, and so utterly calm. They were eyes that had never known death before.
“No, but you’ll see her again someday.”
“No, my little one, not right now. I’m sorry.”
“Can’t you make a potion to wake her up?” He looked up at her. “You can make a potion to do anything, Gran.”
Harry had never understood the phrase “smiled as though her heart was breaking” before. As soon as those thin lips twitched upwards, though, and those sharp black brows knit together to try to keep her grandson from seeing the utter torment in her eyes, it made sense. “Not this time, I’m afraid.” Sev drooped. He took his slobbery fingers from his mouth and put them on her shoulder. His face screwed up, but he didn’t cry. “Would you like to learn something you can show her when you get to see her again?” He nodded slowly. “It’ll be a long time before you see her, but that’s okay, because this will take a long time to learn.”
“Why will it take so long?”
“So you can grow up and make her proud.” He seemed to think about this for a moment. Tiny fingers played with the neck of her robe while he did.
“What is it?”
“A language. It’s a bit like English, but much older. It’s called Latin.”
“Oh.” He rubbed his already-faintly-hooked nose on his sleeve. “How do you say ‘Mummy’?”
“Mater,” he repeated. “How do you say ‘Gran’?”
“Avia.” Innocent black eyes blinked.
“Avia. S’pretty.” Harry was sure Severus was going to say something else but he was caught up in the silver rush. This time, it dropped him outside a large house. He could smell the sea, feel the bite of autumn in the air. The house was large and white and boxy, a fair bit smaller than Dawn House had been, but despite its bright colour it looked cold and staid – a glacier left from some other time. The thatched roof was weathered almost black; it looked rather like Harry’s hair. A large oak tree had grown into the black iron fence coming off the side.
“Why don’t you just magic them down, wizard?” Harry looked around to see Sev, no more than fifteen or sixteen, sneering with his arms crossed. Wait, no, these eyes were icy blue, with an indigo ring around the edge. The harsh contrast sent chills up his spine: it only enhanced the sharp cruelty he’d seen so often in Severus. At his feet huddled a little boy no more than eight. Despite the brutal chill he was naked. The older boy kicked him. “Well?”
Shaking, the little boy pulled himself to his feet. He wasn’t eight; he was six. “Sev!” Harry cried. The boy didn’t answer. Of course not. This was just a memory. He looked at the blue-eyed boy again. His lip curled as he understood who it was. Eversor watched, openly disgusted, as poor little Severus started pulling himself up the iron fence into the tree. High above in the bare branches dangled a robe, a tiny pair of Y-fronts, and two shoes that had been knotted together. He realised Severus was crying.
“When Gran gets home she’ll yell at you!”
“When Gran gets home she can kiss my arse. Don’t you ever, ever do that again, understand? Wizard!” His fists were rigid balls as he screamed. Sev quickly made it halfway up the tree. He pulled his underwear from a twig, and a couple of branches up his robe. He winced. Harry’s stomach clenched when he saw blood dripping down his thin leg, the tip of a twig still in it. His shoes were much higher still. Eversor looked smug. “Father won’t be happy with you if he sees them up there.”
Severus bit his lower lip. The fear on his face made it apparent why he scaled dangerously high. His hand clutched for the laces strung on a branch. A sudden blast of wind from the grey sky sent the tree rocking. He yelped and hung on. Eversor giggled. Harry dug his nails into his palms. He closed his eyes the next time Severus shrieked. The boy sobbed harder. “I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!”
“Prove it. Jump.” The fall would kill him! He had to be fifty feet up by now. He reached for the shoes, missed, tried again—
They were clutched in his fist when the branch broke. He screamed. Harry started, instinctively running to catch him when he realised Sev wasn’t plummeting. Instead, he drifted slowly down and bounced to a stop in front of Eversor. He cowered, clutching his clothes. His brother snarled. He raised his foot to kick again.
“Eversor, go inside.”
A man very much like both of them, with Sev’s black eyes but ashy brown hair, stood several feet behind him. Eversor lowered his head with a look of annoyance. “Yes, Father.” Perditus waited with his eyes closed until the cherry red door latched. He looked at Severus.
“So you’re a wizard.” Sev, too scared to speak, nodded. His father looked nothing short of disappointed. “Then defend yourself.” He turned on his heel and swept into the house, leaving his younger son naked and shivering in the approaching storm—
For an instant, Harry’s world exploded. His nausea burned away in a rush of something. It was clouded, and churning, and dark, and excruciating, and… gone. He found himself gasping, on his hands and knees, trying to make his head stop ringing after the onslaught of… the only word he could find was Hell. When his head cleared he found himself on a cold stone floor. A high-pitched voice said something in Latin. Philia answered. He looked up to find himself in a cluttered, dim room. There were no windows. A stark stone staircase led to a patchwork metal door. Jars lined the walls. In them floated a stark audience with clouded white eyes. Books and parchments covered most of the counter surface; several large metal cabinets stood between long tables; three cauldrons were set up along one of them. Sev, not much older than he’d been in the last memory, stirred a thin, deep green liquid. Philia flipped rapidly through a book. She found something and read, lips moving silently. In a few minutes she turned around. “You can turn the burner off, Nepos. I’ve got something new for you.”
“Quid est?” He poked the flaming ring with his yew-and-unicorn-hair wand. It went out. He hopped down from the thick dictionary he was standing on. Philia pulled him up on her lap.
“Oof! You’re getting big, my love.” She kissed him on top of the head. Sev smiled. Harry smiled, too. He dearly hoped Eversor wouldn’t show himself in this memory. Philia handed him the book. “Read this paragraph.”
Severus blinked. In too steady a reading voice for a child, he said, “’Three curses, known as the Unforgivable Curses, strike greater fear into wizarding hearts than any others. They are: the Imperius Curse, which renders its victims slaves of the caster; the Cruciatus Curse, which subjects its target to the limits of physical torture for as long as wand contact is held; and the Killing Curse, which kills instantly and has no defence. It has been said that to use these curses is to give up one’s soul.’” Harry stared. What the Hell was this? My First Guide To The Dark Arts? Philia leaned her head on Severus’ small shoulder.
“Once upon a time, there was a powerful young wizard named Tom. Tom lived in a castle far, far away, in a place called Hogwarts. He stayed there for seven years, learning and studying and pretending to be nice. They taught him how to be a good wizard, and how to not be an evil one. However, when Tom left the castle he knew a good deal about being a good wizard, but a good deal more about being an evil one. When he met your Grandfather Curtus, he was given the chance to learn more than he’d ever imagined. Your grandfather died, but Tom went away to learn more and to practise what he’d been taught. Someday, he’s going to come back, mei puellus, and when he does you have to be ready.”
Sev cuddled in against his Gran. “Do I have to give up my soul?” he asked in a weak voice.
She shook her head. “No, but you have to know what to do against people who have. You’re going to know as much about the Dark Arts as Tom, but always, always remember this: use them only to defend yourself, or somebody else. Knowledge is power, and you’re going to be the most powerful wizard of all.” Harry didn’t know if he should be scared by her foresight, or humbled by her wisdom. Philia pressed her cheek to Sev’s hair. In the soft yellow light of the shadowy room their silhouettes blended together. Harry sensed Philia trying to fill Severus with strength. Suddenly, a ghostly double of her head turned towards Harry. The next inevitable silver whirl started. She frowned.
When the storm dropped him in the red-and-blue room again he wanted desperately to leave. He couldn’t, though. He couldn’t tear himself away from this bizarre contrast of hate and love, of good and mundane evil. He couldn’t remember the charm that would send him home. The first thing he noticed was the bed was different. Now it was larger, a simple oak sleigh bed. The duvet was still blue. The toy animals were gone, too, replaced by more books and an odd assortment of ingredients and things he didn’t recognize. A small pewter cauldron sat on the dresser. Eversor, taller now, and a bit broader, leaned against the wall. His head was tilted down. Harry could see Sev’s shaking body, pinned. He couldn’t have been ten. Oh, god, it didn’t start this young, did it? Where’s Philia? “Don’t, Eversor, not again.”
“Someday, you’ll thank me.” Eversor tenderly placed a kiss on top of Sev’s shaking head. The boy flinched.
“Go away!” A small fist shot into Eversor’s stomach. He growled. Clawed fingers caught Sev’s head by the hair and slammed it against the wall. The little boy yelped and held up his hands. “Let go, please, just let go of my hair. I’ll do anything you want—“
“Shut up. Don’t you understand that I’m trying to help you?” Eversor yanked. Sev’s hair was a bit longer now, over his ears. “And what did I tell you about washing this?”
“Fuck Gran! If Gran’s so wonderful and perfect, then why is she in that chair? Hmm? And why are her guts turning to mush?” Little Sev hyperventilated. “She can’t let you hide forever, wizard.” Harry tasted bile. Voldemort was suddenly challenged as his personification of darkness. He couldn’t watch, and he couldn’t look away. His eyes crossed as Eversor started unhooking that small robe along Severus’ back. He yanked it over his head and left it tangled on the boy’s arms. With the sweetest of smiles he stepped back and admired his trapped, wheezing victim. “You really should be able to stop me by now.” He dropped to his knees and grabbed Sev’s head, grinding it against his own. “So why are you the one with all the prestige and I’m just The Squib?”
“I’m sorry!” There was too much terror to cry. “You can have it!” Eversor brushed the softest of kisses across his shivering lips.
“You’d do that for me on my birthday?”
“You’d give me everything?”
“You’ll even tell Father to give me his watch?”
“Yes! Just leave me alone, Eversor. Please!” The long fingers loosened. Sev was still pale, still pressed shoulders to the wall. His black eyes were huge in his drawn face. Eversor stroked a taut cheek with his thumb and smiled. He kissed his brother again, softly, chastely, and nuzzled his ear. He opened his mouth slightly.
“You’re pathetic.” With a harsh motion he yanked down Severus’ pants. He snorted. “Not even worth it. Magic yourself out, little brother.” The door shook behind him. Sev slid down the wall, arms still bound over his head, and only then did he allow himself to wrack. Harry retched when he realised they were sobs of relief.
A moment later it was nighttime. The room’s layout and size were identical to Sev’s little room, but everything else was different. The furniture was white and gold, not oak, and the walls glowed a soft shade of rose in the cool moonlight. It smelled like the Potions classroom. A row of photos sat on the dresser beside a tarnished silver cauldron, all of Sev from a tiny baby to a lanky teenage boy in Slytherin robes, all asleep. Ravenclaw’s crest hung on the wall by the mirror. Several large books nestled amongst the fiction in the bookcase: potions, art, archaeology, a bizarre combination. A few lovingly framed drawings dotted the room. A slender figure huddled in the bed. It obviously should have been sleeping. Sev lay in a lump, wide-eyed. The bluish light streaming through white cotton curtains highlighted the heavy tearstains on his face. He was silent as death, and almost as still.
The heavy door inched open. He saw the figure clutch something under his pillow. Harry closed his eyes and hugged himself. Quietly, someone closed the door and moved across the room. “Aww, look at the little wizard, playing with his wand. You’re still not very good at hide and seek.”
“Av… Ava… Avia!”
“Gran’s dead. Get over it.” He heard the covers rustle. Something wooden dropped on the table next to the bed. “Little bedhog tonight, aren’cha? That fancy school of yours is spoiling you.”
“Go away, Eversor. Not tonight?”
“But you know how much you enjoy it. It’ll take your mind off things.” Harry heard soft kissing sounds, and a small, indignant moan. He opened one eye, then stared in shock. Sev was clutching at his brother, who ran his lips over that thin neck. One hand was wrapped tight in his long, greasy hair. The smaller, strictured body was torn halfway between holding Eversor close and pushing him away. “Lay back.” To Harry’s horror and disbelief, Severus did. Eversor disappeared beneath the covers. He bobbed slowly up and down, the rose print of the duvet moving like jeering faces. Severus whimpered. He kept his hands firmly on the pillow. Harry turned and threw up.
For what seemed like hours, he stood, petrified, listening to muffled suction, and clear whimpers turning to moans then stilted guilty cries. He glanced back, just to see if it had really happened. Severus had his wrist in his teeth. Sweat had broken out on his forehead and mingled with an escaped tear. Eversor didn’t seem to be in any hurry to move, though. Black eyes darted suddenly. A wrist rife with red bite marks came loose. “What are you doing?” came the frantic whisper. That thin body squirmed uncomfortably. “Eversor, stop it. That really hurts.” Whatever it was, Eversor seemed in no hurry to stop. “Quit it!” Sev kicked him.
He burst from underneath the covers. Eversor towered over his brother for a moment and fell to his neck. Severus made a noise like “ulk!” “You’ll like it, don’t worry.” The grey nightshirt had been pushed up his thin body and bunched around his neck. He reached out a hand to push his brother away; Eversor grabbed it, and carefully pinned his wrists with one hand. They tangled with his hair. The other was beneath the blankets. “Tell me you love me, little brother.”
“I love you,” Severus choked. He cried out in pain. “Ow… ow… stop it. That hurts.” He gulped. “Eversor, quit it.”
Eversor silenced his sibling with a deceptively tender kiss. Sev turned his head violently. “Relax.”
“Stop it! Oh, god. What are you doing?” He screamed silently as Eversor shifted under the duvet. “Get it out of me. Get it out of me. Get it out of me. Get it—“
“You don’t have to be so damned repetitive! God, you’re tense.” Harry was petrified. He couldn’t look away from that familiar face, all too young, as it crinkled and leaked in agony. Sev struggled, but froze when Eversor moaned. A metallic stench filled the air. Severus’ lips ran silently.
“Ow you’re hurting me ow stop it please ow ow ow help me ow ow oh god make it stop ow ow please stop it help me someone help me Avia ow ow ow oh god Crucio help me someone get it out of me ow ow ow ow oh god help me help me Crucio Avia help me ow ow ow Crucio oh god Crucio help me somebody help me…” It abruptly stopped when Eversor dropped his head and exhaled loudly, muffling it with Severus’ neck. His little brother shook all the shakes he’d built up. Eversor leaned back and beamed as if Severus had accomplished something enormous.
“Tell me you love me.” Sev shook his head, eyes squeezed shut. “Please? For me?” Those thin lips screwed tight. Eversor hmph’ed. He slipped a hand between them. It came up dripping with blood and pink-stained goo. He wiped it down the middle of that young face. Severus wrenched his hands free and wrapped them around Eversor’s throat.
“I’LL KILL YOU! I’LL KILL YOU, EVERSOR! GOD DAMN YOU! YOU KILLED HER! YOU KILLED GRAN! WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER?” Eversor’s eyes bulged and he choked. They struggled. Eversor quickly freed himself. He slapped a bloody mark across Severus’ face.
“I never did anything to her. You are a paranoid, selfish, psychotic, spoiled little wizard!” He punctuated each adjective with another bloody slap, forward, back, again and again. Harry stumbled to his knees. He couldn’t quite see properly. A last soft kissing sound and Eversor slid out of bed. His nightshirt was soaked with gore. “Sleep well, my love.” The door closed behind him. Harry heard wet retching sounds from the bed. The relentless wash of silver pulled him forward. He couldn’t stop it.
He didn’t want to open his eyes when he felt polished wood beneath his hands. He didn’t want to look up and have to watch his Severus violated again. Harry curled up and choked on his tongue. “He did what?”
“Burned Gran’s lab.” Sev’s young voice trembled violently with caged tears. “It’s all gone. Everything.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. Dobby! Dobby, get in here!” The sound of tiny, scampering feet.
“You is calling, Master Lucius?”
“Send Perditus an owl, tell him Severus is staying here for the rest of the summer. I’ll send you for his things later. And bring some tea. Lots of sugar.”
“Yes, sir, Dobby is going.” This was nothing like the Lucius Malfoy Harry knew. He opened his eyes to see a sandy-headed Draco, perhaps in his early twenties, sitting on a long brocade couch, hugging Sev.
“My poor baby cousin.” He pressed his lips to Sev’s wrinkled forehead.
“Why’d he do it on my birthday?”
“Don’t think about that right now.” A snowy thumb wiped a tear from one sallow cheek. Dobby came out of nowhere and quietly set a silver tray on a low mahogany table. He tiptoed out. Lucius reached over and poured a paper-thin china cup of milk and reddish-brown liquid – Harry tried not to think of blood – and dropped in five or six lumps of sugar. He put it in Severus’ hand. “Drink.”
Shaking so that tea slopped in his lap, the young man lifted the cup to his lips. He seemed oblivious to the clouds of steam rising off it as he took the whole thing in one go. The fragile porcelain looked endangered between his palms. “I want Gran.”
“Aunt Philia’d be here if she could.” Lucius took the delicate cup from shaking, narrow hands and set it down. “You’ve got me, though.” Sev seemed to think about this for a moment. He lay his head on his cousin’s shoulder.
“I love you,” he murmured.
“I love you, too.” Harry had never even imagined that cruel, glacial Lucius Malfoy could say something like that. Severus relaxed noticeably. His arms slipped around the older man’s waist.
“I… ha-ate Eversor.” He gagged on the word before it came out.
“He’ll get his. Don’t worry about that.” The grim determination in Malfoy’s face almost made Harry start to like the monster. “Let’s get you to your room.” Sev shook his head.
“Don’t go.” He clutched tighter. Lucius took his hand. Severus kissed it. “Don’t ever leave me.”
“I won’t. I’ll make sure you’re never alone again.” He stroked a thin, smooth cheek.
“I’ve got friends who’ll look out for you. Powerful friends. You remember Walden and Evan, don’t you?” Sev nodded. “There are a good dozen or so more who’ll make sure that bastard never hurts you again.” Malfoy smiled gently. “And we can teach you so much.”
“How to defend yourself, how to become more powerful, how to become as good with potions as Aunt Philia was.” He brushed away a greasy strand of hair. “They’ll love you like a brother, Severus, they really will.”
Sev swallowed hard. “If I tell you a secret, will you promise not to say anything to anyone? Ever?”
Harry could barely hear him. “It’s about Eversor. He does… things. A lot. To me.” The rise and fall of his slim chest quickened. Lucius’ eyes narrowed. He hugged Severus tight.
“You’re not going back there. Ever.” Sev nodded vaguely. The irony of Lucius’ reaction wasn’t lost on Harry. Imagine, the rapist condemning his own breed. Maybe he wasn’t a rapist yet. Harry hoped it was true. “As long as you’re with me you’re safe.” Sev lifted his head and looked into silver-grey eyes. There was trust in his face and movements, and a need to be trusted, and a need to know he’d done something right. Very gently, very softly, he pressed a kiss to his cousin’s lips. Lucius did nothing to stop him, but equally did nothing to urge him on. Long, thin fingers traced the older man’s face. Lucius took them but didn’t pull them away. His pupils dilated.
“What’s it like?”
“What’s what like?”
Sev looked nervous. He flushed when he said, “Not with Eversor.” A pink tinge lit Lucius’ face suddenly. Harry couldn’t tell if it was surprise or something else.
“That’s not a good idea, Severus.” His rapid breathing told a different story.
“Please?” He stroked Lucius’ cheek again, running his fingers down his neck. Lucius’ milky hand tightened around Sev’s deathly one.
“You don’t want—“
“Please.” Severus tensed, craving affection. Harry knew that subtle curve of his back too well. Before Lucius could protest Sev caught him in another kiss, this one long and slow. Their mouths opened and Malfoy made no move to stop his red tongue. A thin strand of saliva was the last thing to break when they parted. “Is anyone else here?”
“Just Dobby. ‘Cissa’s visiting her sister. She won’t be home for days.” Severus shook with old fear as he guided Lucius’ hand, the one with the gold band, to the hem of his black robe. His teeth clicked rapidly between parted lips. “What do you want?”
“I just don’t want to bleed.” Lucius blinked.
“Lay back.” Sev shook his head wildly, body torqued. He settled himself on his cousin’s lap. In a moment he had his robe pulled up to his waist and was wriggling out of his shorts. Lucius neither helped nor hindered. He looked resolute when Severus took a milk-white hand and wrapped it around his half-limp—
Harry stared at the floor. The whole twisted Snape family epic constricted his brain. Why, oh, why hadn’t Philia stopped all of this? Harry felt like he would be sick again. He covered his ears but it didn’t block out the soft sounds, or the sudden strained shout, or the frantic, “What are you doing?”
“Making sure you won’t bleed. Relax, baby cousin.” A pause, punctuated by the soft sound of lips. “You don’t want this to hurt more than it has to.”
“Why are you putting—?”
“It’s slicker than spit.”
Harry curled up in a knee-hugging ball and buried his face when he heard the chained, pained whimpers. He began to cry softly as they gradually changed to uneasy, shameful enjoyment. “Are you ready?” He must have nodded because Harry heard a rustling of robes and the fuff of underwear hitting the floor. “Just ease yourself onto—that’s it. Nice and slow.” Sev started to keen. “Don’t cry, look at me. It’s Lucius.” Harry heard a tender smile shape the whisper. Two soft gasps filled the room, one of pleasure and one of surprise.
“Don’t leave me.”
“Never going to happen.” Where was the silver whorl? He wanted to get out of here! Out of the cream-coloured room with its heavy, dark furniture. Out of the sick web of abuse and rape and submission and desperation and fathers who offered their younger sons up as sacrifice to the elder to make them learn to “defend” themselves. And, for god’s sake, where was Philia when this insanity started? He rocked gently to the music of gasps and soft assurances and whimpers and strangled cries of guilty pleasure. And, oh, god, the vortex finally stole him away and he prayed for release from this Hell—
The earth was soft beneath him, and smelled of moist dirt and grass and tickled with ferns. Far to his right he saw the light of flickering torches through his eyelids; loud laughter and shouts and the occasional sharp cry of pleasure or torture filled his ears. Angry footsteps came closer and stopped a few feet away. Knowing he would regret it, Harry looked up. A tall, painfully slender man stood with his arms crossed. The mouthless white mask covering his face must have been uncomfortable on the hot, humid night. His hooded cloak swayed slightly in a tepid breeze. Slowly, he lifted a long, pale hand and pulled the mask off. Sev winced at a harsh cry behind him.
Harry watched as, with every sound in mirth or murder, another shadow appeared in his youthful face. The tarnished shimmer of his black eyes vanished, leaving them dark and hollow like tunnels to nowhere. He watched the last of Severus fall in the unstable light of the torches, and Snape rise like a black phoenix from his twitching remains. Another cloaked figure, not quite so tall, swaggered up behind him, a little unsteady. He tried to straighten his robe. Blood shone black on black fabric. “Happy birthday, baby cousin.” He wrapped his arms around Snape’s waist and tried to kiss his cheek through the mask.
“Do you honestly think I appreciate this?” His voice was low, silky, dangerous.
“I told you it would happen someday. I thought you’d be pleased.”
“I hate you.” The second Death Eater stepped back. He put an injured hand to his chest.
“Severus, I’m hurt. Really, that’s a bit harsh. You’re supposed to love your family.”
“I have no family.”
Lucius removed his mask. His lips curled up in a thin smile. “Narcissa’s pregnant.” Severus whirled, eyes wide and suddenly burning with terror. “The mediwizard says it’s a boy.” Snape breathed hard, on the verge of panic.
“Wha… wha… when…?”
Lucius gave him a scathing look. “D’you honestly think I would have let you live this long if I thought you could’ve impregnated my wife?” Snape turned back, still straining for air. “God, is there anyone here you haven’t shagged? You are such a slag.”
“Are you referring to me, Lucius, or to you?” Malfoy responded with a slow tongue up the side of Snape’s neck, and a hard bite. Snape hissed and jerked away. Warm redness welled on his deathly skin. ”I don’t understand how I never realised before what a sick individual you are.” Malfoy chuckled.
“What can I say? The Dark Lord has his standards.” He playfully shook those thin shoulders. “Come on, Severus, enjoy your party.”
Snape grabbed Lucius around the face and squeezed. “It is so, so tempting,” he whispered, “to do to you exactly what you’ve done to him, but you know I won’t. Don’t you? That’s why you’ve given me something so generous. No fear of it being returned. Isn’t it, cousin?”
Malfoy jerked free and straightened his cloak. “You don’t have the balls.” A blurred right hook sent him sprawling. He leaned up on his elbows, shook his head, touched his split lip, looked at the blood. A cold smile crossed his face as Snape put his mask back on and stalked towards the lit clearing. Harry followed. He didn’t especially want to. A bloody figure was huddled in the middle of the treeless circle. His knees had been bound to his elbows. A few shreds of clothing still hung around his shoulders and neck and waist. He wheezed heavily. A panting, masked Death Eater lay sprawled on the grass behind him.
“Compliments to your mother, Squibby, old man! Remind me to get your address.” He stretched and adjusted his robe. Eversor hunched in blood-blackened grass. His unfocused eyes opened. Severus stopped in front of him and he looked up.
“What are you waiting for? Permission?” he rasped. His short hair was matted with blood, and his face shone with bruises. Harry saw now the horrific gashes on his back, the huge purple areas where broken ribs poked through skin. One of his forearms looked fractured. “Well?”
Solemnly, Severus removed his mask again. He gazed down at his brother with blank eyes. “It’s been a long time.” Eversor snorted.
“Coward. You never could do anything without help.”
“Goodbye, Eversor,” Sev said softly. He drew his wand and pointed it at the leering, broken face. “Avada Kedavra!” The prowling Death Eaters shrieked in fury as green light filled the clearing. One of them grabbed Snape.
“Goddammit, why did you do that?” Sev shoved him away and staggered off into the woods. The masked man started to follow. Lucius, blood dribbling from beneath his own stark mask, stopped him.
“Burn that thing. We’ll find more.”
Oh, god. Oh, god. Oh, god in Heaven or Hell, Harry understood what the Death Eaters had done: they finished. He raked clawed fingers down his forearm, again, again, watching the figure stagger into darkness. He wished for a spell to counter death just so he could kill Eversor himself. A suffocating lump rose in his throat when he looked at Lucius Malfoy one last time before the silver storm drove him away.
Harry found himself in Dumbledore’s office. The headmaster pushed a bowl of cherries across his desk. Sev eyed them suspiciously. “Have one.” With tentative fingers, Snape picked one up and—
He was back in the clearing. But Harry wasn’t just watching – he saw, felt, tasted, smelled, heard, remembered everything in gruesome, hyperactive detail. It was as if half a dozen wirelesses had been turned on at full blast next to his head. He screamed. Myriad hands wrenched his clothes. He heard fabric rip, felt fingers rake into his flesh, saw the horrible white masks stare impassively. He watched the spells come at him, felt them strike him. The pain echoed. He hit the ground twitching. More spells struck him, spells he couldn’t name. Blood began to trickle from his eyes like tears. A heavy shoe landed between his ribs and he felt them splinter. Ropes ate his knees and elbows. He saw, he felt the robes rip along his back, the pants wrenched from his body, and he howled in agony as the first vicious thrust split him wide and bloody—
“Harry!” He shook. There was some dim awareness that his cheek was warm and wet and smelled of rot. Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop. He could still feel those foul hands on him, that eviscerating force behind him. His hands twitched on the desktop. One raked bloody splinters from the wood. The room flashed green. Dear, merciful death. “Poppy! Get into Severus’ office right now. Emergency!” Hands grasped him. He shrieked.
“Severus… help… help me…” he wrenched hard and fast as he was leaned back in the chair. His eyes fluttered. Convulsions took him and he couldn’t fight the hands. He couldn’t fight the hands. He couldn’t fight the hands…
Latin Lexicon For Latin Lovers
Quid est?: What is it?
Puellus: little boy
Just to let you guys know, I’m upping the posting frequency from every 36-48 hours to every 24-36 hours. Getting major writer’s anxiety over this (which results in writer’s block), and I’ve got to get a bunch of original stuff done for monetary and sanity reasons. Have too many ideas, and as long as this one’s hanging over all like a Death Eater cloak I’m stuck in neutral. Argh!
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